As sometimes happens, I recently received a message through the MarketFaith Ministries website out of the blue. It seems that this individual was a Unitarian Universalist (UU) and was doing research on Christopher Reeve as part of a class she was teaching about the UU church. Mr. Reeve had become a member of the UU church after his riding accident and had helped provide a higher profile for Unitarian Universalism.
It seems that this person had come to our website based on a web search on Christopher Reeve. We actually have an article there which gives the basic beliefs of Unitarian Universalism and which mentions Mr. Reeve’s name (http://www.marketfaith.org/non-christian-worldviews/the-gospel-according-to-christopher-reeve-unitarian-universalism).
Below is a transcript of the e-mail conversation I had with this person. As with so many conversations before, there came a point when this person simply stopped corresponding because she was unable to continue making valid arguments to counter what I was saying to her. Still, this conversation is very instructive in understanding the mindset of people who hold to a relativistic understanding of reality.
As you read, you will see some spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t be concerned about them here. This often happens in a conversation like this because most people are simply responding and do not take the time to go back and edit for grammar and spelling.
April 25, 2012
The majority of your explaination of Unitarian Universalism is quite accurate. Your title is perhaps unfair, since christopher Reeves would probable not entirely approve of this article.
Most Unitarian Universalist theists are panentheists, not naturalists. About 30% of the typical congregation tends toward atheism. Most Unitarian Universalists, like Chistopher Reeve, left other religious organizions that they felt were confining, contradictory, or scientifically impossible.
Unitarian Universalists tend to beieve that deeds are more important than creeds. It is not an accident that Unitarian Universalism has no creed or doctrine.
The founder of Unitarianism, Francis David, said that we need not think alike to love alike. This is still one of the preeminent beliefs in every Unitarian Universalist congregation.
Unitarian Universalists cannot believe anything they want. Beliefs must accord with the seven principles, with Unitarian Universalist history, with the six sources from which UUs draw faith.
Unitarian Universalist believe that there need not be a fundamental conflict between faith and science.
Unitarian Universalist do not believe what their leaders tell them to beieve; this is pure non-sense.
The seven principles of Unitarian Universalism are principles of belief and BEHAVIOUR and they are principles that UUs affirm and promote, not principles that UUs believe in. This is because Unitarian Universalism is a deed oriented religion. Unitarian Universalism may be best summed up by the prophet Mica: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Because Unitarian Universalism in North America grew out of Christianity, here it does tend to resemble Christianity. In India it tends to resemble Hinduism and Budhism. There are UUs of every faith and UUs of no particular faith and UUs for whom Unitarian Universalism is their faith.
I am both a biblical scholar and a Unitarian Universalist. Christianity is one of the sources of our faith; it simply isn’t our only source.
Unitarian Universalist are delighted to help you celebrate your faith in Christ. We admire your history, traditions, and passion. There is nothing about you or your faith that we wish to change.
We do not proseletyze, ever. We do not even raise or own children in our faith; we teach them world religions and provide them moral guidance. I only found your site today because I am facilitating a course in my own church on various Unitarian Universalists. Right now I am researching Cristopher Reeve.
I find it somewhat painful to read that members of another faith are strategizing about how to breakdown the understanding of reality that UUs have in order to replace it with your, presumably better and absolute truth.
This is not the way toward ecumenism. Tis is not the way to start a conversation between people of faith.
With respect for your beliefs and values,
April 25, 2012
I appreciate your comments and understand what you are attempting to say. First, let me just comment that Christopher Reeve is not being put forth as the prototypical UU adherent. Obviously, as you have so ably pointed out, there is no such thing. UU adherents are definitely all over the place. That title was to incorporate an “interest factor” not to characterize all UUs. Because of the nature of your belief, I would have run into the same problem no matter what name I put in the title.
Also, I think you miss the point of the article. It was not an attempt to be ecumenical. There actually is some way that reality is structured and I believe biblical Christianity represents that way. I really do believe that God is an objectively real person who has revealed himself and his ways in the Bible in order that we may know him in a personal relationship by faith in Jesus Christ.
I’m sorry, and actually a bit surprised, that you find it painful that I would be true to my faith. You see, therein lies the problem. You have made a show of saying that people can, and ought to, believe what they feel is the truth, yet you would deny me my way and assert that your relativistic approach is presumably better.
But here is the real problem with UU. It tries to allow for contradictory beliefs to co-exist. This is just impossible. Either God exists or he doesn’t. If he does, he is either personal or impersonal. (And we could go on the possible contradictions which are allowed within UU.) As I mentioned above, there is some objective way reality is structured and it is not structured any other way. If what I believe is true, what you believe does not represent reality (and vice versa, of course). I happen to believe that the UU appraoch simply is wrong.
If you wish to correspond regarding this, I would be more than happy to accommodate. Our purpose is certainly not to be offensive, only to share the truth about how to know a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
April 25, 2012
If your hope is to share with us the truth about how to know a personal relationship with Jesus Christ I suspect that being respectful of our faith might be a good place to begin. Given that we are only to happy to begin by being respectful of your faith, reciprocity would seem to be a good starting point.
I don’t at all deny you your right to believe that your view is the right view for you. I don’t even deny the possibility that you are completely and utterly correct. There may be one absolute truth, and it may be that Jesus is that Truth.
Telling me that I am simply wrong, when I am open to the possibility that you are right, is just not a good place to start the conversation. All Unitarian Universalists are open to the probability that we are wrong. Divine things are for divine minds. Even if the Divine laid out all the facts for us chances are pretty good that we would be too simple minded to grasp them in their entirety.
I am very happy for you that you are capable of certainty through faith. The fact is that those of us who are Unitarian Universalists do not have this capacity. I do not find it painful that you are true to your faith. I find it painful that you insult me for mine.
You are quite right that I did miss the point when I thought that you were trying to be ecumenical or advance understanding; clearly you are not. There are very few things that Unitarians agree on but the vast majority of Unitarians do not believe that God is an ontological actuality, and there is no approach that will convert us to your reality.
May you continue to enjoy faith unencumbered by reason or doubt. This is not something that interests me.
Thanks for writing back,
April 25, 2012
Once again, you seem to be misunderstanding my motives and my purpose. The purpose of my ministry, and of the things I write, are to help those who are already believers, not to be a mere information repository. My reply to you was not meant to be an insult, only an explanation of where I was coming from. I certainly don’t mind having the conversation, it is just that the purpose of what I do goes in a different direction and you need to understand that when you read my stuff or your will take it wrongly (as you did).
Also, my response to you was a direct reply to what you said. You are the one who
said there is nothing about what I believe that you want to change then threw in the barb that my understanding about absolute truth is “presumably better” than your relativistic approach. I didn’t take offense at the sarcasm, but I did take note of it. I also haven’t taken offense at your statement that I am “unencumbered by reason or doubt.” That was certainly meant as a bit of a put-down, but I get your perspective.
Because of the differences in our worldview foundations, we don’t naturally speak the same language when it comes to belief. But the very nature of communicating across worldview barriers is that if we don’t make our ideas very plain, there will never be any understanding between us. A belief in absolutes and a belief in relativism are polar opposites. They can never be reconciled. When you try to interpret what I write through a relativistic lens, you end up not being able to understand what I am really saying.
I am not sure what you mean by saying UUs don’t have the capacity to have certainty concerning faith. Certainly you do have the capacity, you have simply chosen a different filter through which to view reality. That is not an insult. It is merely stating the obvious. You have made it clear that you don’t consider God to be an “ontological actuality.” I fully understand the worldview filter you come from. That is my expertise. But the fact is, you can’t, as you have stated, be open to the possibility that I am right and at the same time not be interested in exploring it. You are either open or you are not, but you can’t be both. My perception is that you
really are not – which is certainly your prerogative.
Again, I am not insulted by what you are saying, I just don’t agree with you – just as you have made it plain that you don’t agree with me. But I am still happy to have the conversation.
Regardless of which belief system people choose, we do it on the basis of faith. After all, a worldview is a set of beliefs – presuppositions. But just because it is faith does not mean it isn’t objectively true. Some position actually corresponds with the way reality is structured. Based on a whole body of evidence (empirical, logical and experiential), I believe that what is taught about God in the Bible represents that truth. A relativistic approach to understanding reality cannot even deal with the possibility that objective Truth even exists.
Anyhow, please don’t take my directness to be an insult. I am simply trying to help you understand how the differences in our worldview perspectives have caused us to look at the same thing and see something different. Whether or not we ever agree, we at least ought to be able to understand each other.
April 26, 2012
I only discovered your writing because you discussed a Unitarian Universalist in your article.
I only wrote to you because I thought that perhaps you were unaware that you had misrepresented my faith, and Christopher Reeve’s faith.
I do not mean anything pejorative when I point our that your religion is based on authority, while mine is based on reason; or that your religion is based on the certainty of faith, while mine is based on the doubt that comes with questioning. The Christians whom I love and cherish are very content to have faith without reason or doubt. I am happy for them that they can accept the Truth of their faith based on authority with such certainty. I don’t believe that one religion is superior to the other; your works for you, mine works for me.
You believe that yours is the Truth and that mine is simply wrong. I don’t even object to that; that is your prerogative. I don’ believe that your faith is either right or wrong; I simply remain open to the possibility of of any Truth and all Truths. I don’t expect you to do the same.
You say that your purpose is to help those who are already believers. This is where my misunderstanding of your purpose comes from. If your purpose is to help believers why do you write about Unitarian Universalists at all? What does our faith have to do with you? We are so few and you are so many. We die at the hands of Christians all the time, and have done so from Servetus to the present. You, on the other hand, are in no way threatened by us. We are happy to leave you to live and worship and believe as you see fit. Why do your believers need to know how to speak to us? Why do they need to know how to convince us that we are wrong? What stake do you and your believers have in our religion?
Until I read you article I didn’t know that you and the believers you help even existed. How did we become the focus of your lens?
April 26, 2012
I am so surprised at the number of misconceptions you have expressed. I almost don’t know where to start. Let me hit some of the highlights in the order you have expressed them.
1. First, I am not sure what you think has been misrepresented about UU. I believe we correctly characterized it as a hybrid set of beliefs which allows for just about anything that anyone wants to believe (except for a belief in absolutes).
2. Your dichotomy between authority and reason is not quite accurate. Both belief systems have an authority source. The authority source for the Christian faith is the Bible. The authority source for you seems to be human reason (you appear to have a Naturalistic bent to your own set of beliefs), though that cannot be said to be the authority for all UU practitioners. Regardless, every belief system is based on faith, even your “doubt” approach. As I mentioned before, though, faith doesn’t mean without evidence. Faith without evidence is presumption. There will always
be evidence which points to the truth or falsity of a belief system (empirical, logical and experiential).
3. Faith cannot be held without reason. Your separation of these is a false dichotomy.
4. Your postmodernist approach is not surprising, but there is such a thing as objective reality (whether we individually know what it is or not). When you say, “yours works for you, mine works for me” you are expressing the idea that it doesn’t really matter because there is no such thing as objective reality. In other words, without using these words, you are directly telling me that my beliefs are wrong – in spite of what you say. You can’t have it both ways.
5. The very idea of “remaining open to the possibility of any Truth and all Truths” is a rather meaningless statement (I don’t mean this as an insult). In practical terms, what of the truths that I have asserted are you open to and how would you express that openness? Certainly not by believing it.
6. As to your curiosity about why I write about UU (and many other belief systems), I am very surprised that you don’t fully grasp that. You mentioned in an earlier e-mail that you are a biblical scholar. Have you not heard of the Great Commission? Christ commissioned believers to find those who don’t know a personal relationship with God and make disciples of them. It is difficult to do this when you don’t know anything about the people you need to interact with. I write to help believers as they interact with non-believers.
7. I am really shocked that you are accusing me of being a persecutor. I have never done anything like that in my life. I see you as a person made in the image of God but without a personal relationship with him. My desire is that you would come to know him. It is not an intellectual matter of convincing you that you are wrong. Rather, it is a desire that you would come to know eternal life by understanding that God is an objectively real person that we can know in an actual personal relationship based on the substitutionary death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
8. There is certainly enough persecution to go around if you want to look back through history. Almost every group of people (regardless of religious affiliation), when they get in power, have a tendency to want to quash dissenters. There are plenty of examples of Christians being persecuted, as well. But this doesn’t really relate to the truth of the gospel. Just because some people claim to be Christians doesn’t mean that they really are – especially if they are acting in ways which contradict the belief they espouse. You are making a generalization, here, that reflects on political power, not the message of the Bible.
I hope that this clears up some of the misconceptions you have about me and about the Christian faith. However, if there are other matters you are curious about, I would be happy to discuss it further.
April 27, 2012
It is like we are speaking different languages, not just from different world views.
Most Unitarian Universalists work beyond post modernism. Post modernism is already old. Please stop imposing a dualistic understanding of the world upon me. Dualism died with Plato.
Naturalism and panenetheism considerably different. Although I don’t work within the framework of panenetheistic process thought it is the framework that most UUs use. Pantheism and panentheism are substantially different.
I am not accusing you or persecuting us, I am merely pointing out that we are a persecuted faith. Unitarians were among the early Christians who were persecuted. Until the gospel of John was written all Christians were Unitarians. The Spanish Inquisition killed us for our own good. The grand Inquisitor believed that it would be better for us to gain eternity in heaven than to live another moment on earth in sin. We neither wanted nor needed to be changed. We aren’t interested in Heaven. If there is a heaven and hell we would rather be in hell helping to comfort those who are suffering than be in heaven enjoying bliss while others suffer for eternity.
You most certainly did misrepresent us. You called your article The Gospel according to Christopher Reeve; that alone misrepresents us. Most of your information is correct but your spin is inaccurate. There is also so much that is missing.
All knowing is based on a certain amount of faith. We have faith that the sun will come up in the morning. This is based on consistent experience but not on knowledge. I believe in the existence of Australia, even though I have no personal empirical evidence of it; I know others who have empirical evidence of it. I believe in it based on the experience of friends and family plus the authority of teachers and science.
Knowledge alone is not an authority. If you had represented Unitarian Universalism more accurately you would have discovered that we list six sources for our faith. These sources are authoritative for us. They are simply more diverse than yours.
I do not need to believe something to to be open to it as a being a Truth. This is not in the least bit meaningless. Scientists, for example, have hypotheses. They are open to many possibilities. None are ever proven; one becomes the best explanation of experience and evidence, or the best current theory. I can live with this approach in my faith. When I encounter the truth I am prepared to believe it, even if it is substantially different from what I hold sacred. I am okay with Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity all being different wells that lead to the same water. We can all sing with different voices but still be singing the same song. Fundamentalism fails faith because it lacks the power of metaphor. Fundamentalism fails the world when different fundamental faiths collide and go to war. Pluralism works for me. I get that it doesn’t work for you. I understand that you are not okay with religious pluralism. I get that you
believe in heaven and hell. I get that you find it insulting when I say your Truth works for you and multiple routes to Truth, or to multiple truths, work for me. I am not saying that you are wrong; I am saying that right and wrong are not categories of faith for me. I can say Jesus is the Truth and believe it. I also believe that Mohammed is the Truth. I believe that Buddha was in possession of the truth when he said “all life is suffering” and that he knew the Truth when he found the way to end suffering through the four noble truths. Yet their are people who call themselves Christian whose Christianity you would deny. My truth is big and yours is very small.
After one sermon I gave about twenty people came up to me and told me that there favourite part of the sermon was the part about the baby’s tears. There wasn’t a part about baby tears in the sermon. I even checked the recording to see if I had misspoken. There was a part about babies, and there was a part about tears; there was nothing about baby’s tears. Yet for almost 2 dozen people the part about baby’s tears was their favourite part. I asked each of them about the truth and meaning that this part of the sermon held for them, and although different for each, there was also a remarkable similarity in what each had heard. They had heard a truth in the sermon that I had neither written nor intended. You assume that when you read the bible and when I read the Bible we read the same words and hear the same message; we don’t. I don’t read a translation of the Bible. I don’t read from just one manuscript. You and I each bring our own memories, experiences, knowledge and beliefs to the words that we read. Different words resonate for each of us.
There are many truths about Jesus that I believe; they are likely parallel to the Truth that you believe about Jesus, just not identical. For instance, I call him by his Aramaic name, Yeshua, like his mother did. Perhaps this is because I am a mother. I picture him as a physically strong dark haired dark eyed Jewish man; he was a carpenter from what is now Lebanon, after all. I don’t know any weak, skinny carpenters, or any blond blue eyed Jewish men. I read his words as words spoken by an itinerant Rabbi, going from village to village, speaking to country people, eating in their homes. I picture him as a man whose loved ones are living under the occupation of a powerful foreign invader. I understand him as a a non-violent civil resister, as Ghandi understood him. I never picture him wearing a white robe; white cloth was expensive and got dirty easily. Rabbis were poor men. I understand him as a man who stood up to the religious authority and fundamentalism of his own religion in his own time. The rigidity of the elders was hurting people, and making their lives harder in a time that was already very hard. He helped those who lived in poverty, the outcasts and the ill. He helped women. I understand him this way because I am a Biblical scholar and a person of faith. I do not interpret the Bible the way that you interpret the Bible. I interpret it in terms of first century history. I look at the context in which Yeshua lived. I understand that all readings of the Bible, including yours, are interpretations. I have seen from reading ancient manuscripts in their original languages that a lot of passages were added in and many were deleted. I can detect that some of the letters of Paul weren’t written by Paul. The Gospels were written long after Yeshua’s death. Scholarship is not Bible Study. I do not study the Bible for its meaning to Christians. I studied the Bible for its relationship to history.
I have never denied that I have faith. I am very aware that my position is a faith position. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that all reason and logic are faith based. We chose are premises and perspectives based on faith.
UUs cannot believe anything that they want to believe. You are wrong. To quote you, “(This is not an insult.) You are simply wrong.” We all promote and affirm the seven principles of belief and behaviour. Our six sources are our source of faith. Look them up; you might be surprised to discover what our sources are. In leaving out our sources you have misrepresented our faith. We learn from the lessons of our long, long Unitarian history, which starts with first century Christianity. We do not believe just anything: our faith accords with our 2000 year history. Fundamentalist Christianity doesn’t begin until the printing press, and doesn’t grown in earnest until the advent of Darwinianism and 20th century archaeology. UUs all believe in doing good works. We all believe in the words of 16th century Unitarian Frenic David that “we need not think alike to love alike.” We all say, I may not believe what you believe but I will defend to the death your right to believe it.” We do not believe anything that contradicts these things. We cannot and do not believe anything we want to believe.
If you and your people of faith were under attack because of your beliefs Unitarian Universalist would lay down their lives for your right to your beliefs. I believe this as a matter of faith and authority. I know this based on our history and experience. I have empirical evidence of this. Our principles and sources bring us to this position though logic and reason. We have died for others and saved the lives of others: Protestants, Catholics, Jews, African Americans, gays. Christopher Reeves almost died when he was tear gassed trying to save Chilean artists from death warrants signed by Pinochet. Unitarian and Universalists were instrumental in the underground railway. Our churches saved Jews from Nazis without requiring them to give up their faith; we risked our lives allowing them to practice Judaism in our churches across Europe (we have an annual celebration of this). We have died and will continue to die for others because of our faith, based on one of our sources, Christianity. We would want others to do the same for us. We love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
When a fundamentalist Christian gunman shot and killed two members of one of our churches during a children’s pageant members of the congregation comforted the gunman while waiting for the police to come. Congregants hugged the gunman, gave him tea, and asked him about his family and his faith. He surrendered peacefully to police when armed officers arrived.
The congregation continues to light candles of sorrow for the gunman.
There are indeed absolutist Unitarian Universalists. There are Christian Unitarian Universalist churches, particularly on the American east coast. All UUs were Christians until 1961. Unitarian and Universalist Christians simply didn’t and don’t understand Christianity the way you understand Christianity. Unitarians didn’t accept the political compromise reached at
the council of Nicaea.
Perhaps you might like to turn on the news; Fundamental literalists are the ones in power now. Your interpretation of the great commission is offensive. (I don’t mean to be insulting). How is wanting to “make disciples of those who don’t have a personal relationship with God.” different from “quashing dissenters”? It is really only a difference of degree. By trying to make
us disciples you are implicitly trying to destroy our faith. The earliest Gospel, Mark, has no story about Jesus speaking to the disciples after his death (the one in modern manuscripts was added on much later). What you arrogantly call “the great commission” is a passage in Matthew that has
the risen Yeshua ask his disciples to teach the other nations what Yeshua has taught to his disciples. “The Great Commission” is an interpretive subtitle added into some translations. Your interpretation of what Yeshua taught after the resurrection is very different from mine; I interpret this exhortation to the disciples to mean teach others what I have taught you: love one another, help those who suffer, lead by example. All Unitarian Universalist do this. Read over our principles of belief and BEHAVIOUR. Your interpretation of Yeshua’s words leads you to have no respect for our right to practice our faith without you trying to make us disciples of a personal
God. We would die for your right to practice your faith in peace; we would literally die for your right to practice you faith.
We act upon our faith in the world. That is your biggest misrepresentation of who we are. We are social justice advocates. We help those who are poor and those who are suffering. We give more than we take, we love more than we are loved. We lay down our lives for our friends and our enemies. We live for today. Read what Christopher Reeve actually had to say and you will
find that you misrepresented him terribly. Like Christopher Reeve, “even though I don’t personally believe in the Lord, I act as though He is watching.” Unitarians believe that what we do matters more than what we believe.
Christians have chosen an image of capital punishment as their religious symbol. Early Christians chose Jonah and the whale, or the fish (Ixthus). But now you have the equivalent of a noose, an electric chair, or a syringe. Why are you so obsessed with the death and resurrection of Christ instead of following the life and path of Jesus? Do you ever imagine a modern Jesus, in
a death row cell in Texas, waiting for a last minute reprieve from the governor?
If you would like your Believers to engage us in conversation perhaps the best approach would be to simply ask “What do you believe.” All Unitarian Universalists are prepared to answer that question. UUs will certainly reciprocate; we enjoy talking to people about their faith. If your believers want to try to sow some seed and leave it be, that would be what Jesus recommended, wouldn’t it? And if our ground is too hard, or rocky, or doesn’t get enough moisture, then that isn’t the fault of your believers. They will have spread the good news, and if it doesn’t grow in us, clearly, that is our fault. We are prepared to accept the consequences.
I appreciate that you want eternal life for me. I don’t want eternal life for myself; this life is enough. Eternal life, even if it is for everyone, sounds really, really long. Heaven, if it is for a select few, is the most immoral concept that a Unitarian Universalist can imagine. Why would
anyone worship a personal God who condemns any of his beloved children to eternal torment? When Unitarians say ‘Heaven for all or its not for me’ we mean it. We really would choose to be in hell comforting those who are suffering than be in heaven worshipping the God who consigned even just one person to everlasting suffering.
April 29, 2012
I completely understand the points you are trying to make. I do, though, continue to be surprised at your misrepresentation of biblical Christian faith. Again, it is quite difficult to know where to start answering your misconceptions.
Did you read the reason I gave in my previous response for the title of the article? I believe that if you will consider what I said, you will understand why I did it and why it is not a misrepresentation. Using your definition, any name I used would have been a misrepresentation since there are so many different possible belief approaches in UU. His name was used simply because he identified himself as a UU.
Regarding persecution: The fact is, Christians and UU believers have both been persecuted throughout history, and both Christians and UU believers have sacrificially helped people in need. What is your point in detailing these things? I don’t understand what you are trying to get at with this. This is simply historical fact that doesn’t advance a particular belief. Many people of many faiths have found themselves in the same position.
You still don’t seem to get the concept of authority sources. Every belief system has its own, and the beliefs that come out of it are considered the right thing for the individual who follows the belief. For belief systems which do not accept the existence of an objective God who has revealed himself, the authority source must come from somewhere else. In your case, it seems to come from human reason. (You have actually never specifically stated your belief in this arena. I
was guessing from some of the statements from previous posts. Now you have also inserted the
idea of panentheism. Is that what you believe? If so, what is the source of your belief? How do you know it is the way reality is actually structured.) If you have a different source for your beliefs I would love to hear an explanation of it. BTW, somehow you shifted to the idea of “knowledge” from my use of “authority source.” I don’t think I used that word at all in making my point and these are not the same thing.
I understand the point you are trying to make with your discussion of heaven and hell. However, you set up a straw man in this case. Your description of it and your objections to your description do not address a Christian understanding of either God or of heaven and hell. In the Christian view, God never sends anyone to hell. In fact, he has provided a means for any and everyone to enjoy eternity with him. It is just that he never forces himself on anyone. The only people who go to hell are those who choose it by not receiving God’s provision for the forgiveness of sin. And if you did go to hell of your own choosing, how do you know you would be in a position to comfort anyone?
Regarding an understanding of reality: Once again you are describing reality in terms that are impossible. I, as you, do believe that there are truths which are described in many, if not most belief systems. However, the overlapping truths do not relate to how a person can know God. Some belief systems don’t even believe in a personal God. Others which do, describe him in radically different ways. They also have radically different descriptions of how to please him. However, once again, I have to say that reality does exist in some objective way. Either God exists or he doesn’t – it can’t be both. If he does, he is either personal or impersonal – it cannot be both. If God is the person described in the Bible, he is not the person described in the Koran or the Buddhist or Hindu writings. Something is the truth and everything else is not when it comes to describing reality. A hybrid approach like you are trying to promote is internally contradictory and simply does not logically hold together. Also, your assumption that all belief systems somehow lead to the same eternal truth cannot be supported by anything other than your own desire to believe it.
In saying your approach is postmodern in nature, I was simply describing an approach which operates in opposition to a belief in absolutes. I recognize that there is no such thing as a single official or authoritative explanation of it. To say that you are past it though is to beg the question. You have stated quite explicitly that you have no problem accepting contradictory beliefs and that whatever “works” for any particular individual is fine. You can call it anything you want, but it is very postmodern in nature.
I completely understand your seven principles. What I am saying is that they are completely arbitrary. Why these seven and not others? Where did they come from? What is it about these principles that makes them good and right? In fact, where do your definitions of good and right even come from? I have no personal objection to your seven, but they do not lead to any kind of eternal truth in and of themselves. They are just seven arbitrary principles. These are nothing more than an expression that comes out of your authority source which seems to be human reason. As far as I can tell, there is no claim of revelation from God to them (in fact, as you have
stated, many UUs don’t even believe in an objective God capable of revealing anything).
In your explanation of your position, you have gone to great lengths to tell me that my approach to faith and my understanding of God is utterly wrong. In doing that, you are trying to “quash my dissent” from your belief and destroy my faith. You want to make me a disciple of your approach. I don’t really believe that is your intention, but because my belief and your belief are contradictory, it cannot be any other way. Since that is the case, isn’t it a bit strange that you are so strongly accusing me of trying to destroy your faith by trying to destroy mine. In fact, all I am trying to do is share with you how you can personally know the God who has revealed
himself to mankind and provided a means whereby we can know him in an eternal, personal, loving relationship. Rather than trying to destroy your faith, I am trying to help you know eternal life.
You are way too harsh in your attacks on my motives. I have never said or done one thing to keep you from practicing your faith. In fact, I believe, as you do, that every person should be free to practice their faith as they wish, even if they are wrong. I accord you the same. It is just that the belief you describe has no basis except for personal assertion that it is true and your decision that you are going to believe it (even in the face of massive internal contradictions).
I’m not sure what to make of your discussion on capital punishment. Some of the things you have said in that discussion are simply not historically accurate, and some parts of it do not describe the biblical Christian belief.
Again, I hope that this has cleared up some of your misunderstandings and misconceptions about the Christian faith. I also hope that you will consider again the possibility that I may be right about how to know God. What if I am?
Hope your weekend was blessed and that this week will be, as well.